DC Tutoring and mentoring initiative (DCTMI) logo

About us

We started our work because we saw a problem. Two-thirds of students in DC read below their grade level. Our plan is simple: provide a tutor or mentor for every student reading below grade level or in need of additional academic or non-academic support in DC.


The story behind our vision

Our Vision

Empowering our students
Transforming our community.

We believe, to paraphrase Martin Luther King, that we CAN learn to live and work together as brothers and sisters to create a better world for all and close the gap between our scientific progress, on the one hand, and our moral and spiritual progress on the other.
DC Tutoring and Mentoring Initiative volunteers
DC volunteers - tutors and mentors with DC Tutoring and Mentoring Initiative
Our Mission

Small Steps Lead To Big Changes

To recruit a tutor or mentor for every student in DC and the surrounding suburbs who needs extra academic or non-academic support. In the process, we strive to create a kinder and wiser civic culture – the foundation for thriving, sustainable, and equitable communities and a stronger democracy — that can be a model for communities around the country.

Thriving Engaged Welcoming Nurturing Community

students succeed in school & out


We Are Committed to helping DC students overcome any challenge and attain spectacular results.

DCTMI was founded in 2016 because two-thirds of DC school children need extra academic and non-academic support. While desire to remedy this problem wasn’t (and isn’t) in short supply, Founder and Executive Director Tom Pollak saw an opportunity to translate this initial enthusiasm for volunteering into long-term, sustainable commitments to volunteer. After seven years of work around themes of civic responsibility and engagement and hundreds of conversations and presentations, Pollak knew how to connect with potential tutors and mentors and established DCTMI as part of the broader Civic Leadership Project. Almost every year since, DCTMI has increased the number of volunteer signups and events it has attended.

Theory of Change


Team Members
  • Staff
  • Interns
  • Civic Leadership Fellows
  • Tutoring & mentoring
  • organizations & school-based programs
Volunteer Stakeholder Groups
  • Young professionals
  • Active seniors
  • College students
  • Residents in communities with greatest needs
  • Employers, large & small
  • Universities
  • College student groups
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Religious congregations
  • Civic & professional clubs
  • Neighborhood associations


Outreach: From face-to-face to mass marketing
  • Farmers markets, festivals and other public spaces
  • CivicFest and other DCTMI sponsored events
  • Newsletter
  • Social media
  • Earned local media outreach
  • Website
  • Presentations
  • Outreach partnerships with tutoring & mentoring organizations
  • Word-of-mouth


  • More trained tutors & mentors working with nonprofit tutoring & mentoring organizations
  • More hours of tutoring & mentoring
  • More students involved in tutoring & mentoring
  • More parents connected to needed services and support
  • More publicity for Tutoring and Mentoring needs
  • More people read, view or heard about tutoring & mentoring opportunities
  • More donors and funds raised to staff & support work


For Students
  • Greater academic success
  • Fewer absences
  • Test scores improve
  • Grades improve
  • Graduation rates improve – Greater % of students attend college
For Tutors & Mentors
  • Empathy
  • Grit
  • Mature leadership
  • Increased sense of collective efficacy & fellowship in community
  • Greater number of people agree with the following statements:
    • “In our city, we can work together to make a better community.”
    • “In our city, we take care of one another, young & old; black, white or brown”
    • “Our city feels like a real community: vibrant, welcoming, safe…”
Get involved today

what you can do

There are several ways you can get involved. You can harness your abilities and desire to make an impact by becoming a volunteer tutor or mentor. You can also become an outreach lead (volunteer or paid) on the DCTMI team. We are also on the lookout for freelance talent to support the operations and growth of the organization. 

DC Tutoring and mentoring initiative (DCTMI) logo